Local News

Raleigh approves pine straw limits for apartments, townhomes

Posted May 4, 2010

— The Raleigh City Council on Tuesday approved restrictions on the use of pine straw in landscaping outside apartment buildings and townhouse complexes.

Despite a plea from Mayor Charles Meeker to keep pine straw 20 to 30 feet from buildings, the council decided to go with the Raleigh Fire Department's recommendation that pine straw be kept at least 10 feet from combustible structures, aside from single-family homes and duplexes.

The fire department recommended the change after a March 23 fire that destroyed seven homes in the Highland Creek subdivision off Louisburg Road in northeast Raleigh.

Pine straw next to units in the Pine Knolls Townes complex, off Capital Boulevard in Raleigh, also helped spread a February 2007 fire that damaged or destroyed 38 townhouses.

Meeker said last month that Raleigh didn't go far enough in changing building codes after the Pine Knolls Townes fire, and it was time to make up for that oversight.

The restrictions take effect Dec. 1, giving property owners time to move pine straw back from their buildings and replace it with other ground cover.

The ordinance doesn't address pine straw outside single-family homes and duplexes because the fire department doesn't have the authority to enforce regulations on them. Authorities have said building inspectors could enforce tougher pine straw rules on those residences, and city officials said they might revisit the issue.

Also during the council's Tuesday meeting, the board voted to seek out information about acquiring land for a proposed transit hub in downtown Raleigh. The council established a task force to study the transit hub which would bring buses, trains and high-speed rail to one location on South West Street between West Morgan and West Martin streets.

The task force will report to the city council. The Passenger Rail Task Force's first meeting is scheduled for May 10.

The council also decided to look further at a proposal to ban smoking in city parks.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • freedomrings May 5, 2010

    Mulch is flammable too, dill-holes. Ummmm, it's made out of...wood.

    I really think this ruling was ANOTHER waste of taxpayer dollars.

  • robertslaw May 5, 2010

    Funny that Raleigh wants to blame pine straw, but allow houses to be built within 5 feet of each other. Pine straw only spreads fires if there is continuous coverage from one house to the next. Fix your setback laws and build them farther apart and you won't have this problem.

  • FE May 4, 2010

    Do the police have to give a Miranda warning to the pine trees near these apartments?


  • streetfightinman May 4, 2010

    haphazardous smokers are the ones causeing the problems,
    Gas stations are dangerous to but nobody smokes around the
    pumps, meeker is a pine straw natzi, ha ha

  • rescuefan May 4, 2010

    Wow, there are really a ton of pine straw lovers posting here. Really? You all like pine straw that much? Even when we lived in a townhouse instead of a single family home, we told the landscapers to keep the pine straw away from our place. We put in a couple of boxwoods and white stones around them. Looked better and wasn't a fire hazard. Now that I own a single family home, I don't have to worry about the HOA using cheap pine straw to "decorate" the landscaping and can use mulch and rocks instead. It looks a ton better!

  • WHEEL May 4, 2010

    Meeker and the Council are about 10 cards short of a full deck

  • colliedave May 4, 2010

    Does this mean all pine trees within the city limits must be cut down? whatelseisnew

    good question. does this mean that all pine trees withing those limits must be cut down? and if the trees are to be removed does the owner need to apply for a permit? at the heart of the matter the fires were caused by an improper disposal of a cigarette or ashes from a fireplace. Are these next on Comrade Meekers list to be banned.

  • Adelinthe May 4, 2010

    When are they going to bank smoking materials closer than 10' to a building???

    Might just as well.

    God bless.


  • dahman May 4, 2010

    king charles...........at it again!!!!

  • protestthis May 4, 2010

    "If you think you can escape that tax by removing your pine trees, think again, there will be a permit required for each tree that you want to remove. "=- whatelseisnew

    HAHAHA.. already removed all mine - now if someone can figure out a way to get all the darn trees away from my neighbors properties I'll be all set. They can fine or tax me .. LOLOLOL